Tesla delays truck launch, eyes battery power for Puerto Rico

October 6, 2017

Tesla said Friday it was delaying the planned launch of its electric transport truck, diverting resources to step up production of its Model 3 sedan and to produce batteries for storm-ravaged Puerto Rico.

The electric carmaker's chief executive Elon Musk announced the news on Twitter, pushing back the launch of its semi-truck which had been set to be unveiled October 26 in California.

The news comes after a slower-than-expected debut for Tesla's Model 3, the $35,000 sedan—half the price of earlier models—which aims to bring electric vehicles to a broader market.

The company said earlier this week it had received some 450,000 pre-orders for the Model 3 but that production has been hobbled by a bottleneck in "manufacturing subsystems."

"Tesla Semi unveil now Nov 16," Musk tweeted Friday.

"Diverting resources to fix Model 3 bottlenecks & increase battery production for Puerto Rico & other affected areas."

In a series of exchanges on Twitter Thursday and Friday, Musk said the company could help restore electricity to Puerto Rico—whose power system was decimated by Hurricane Maria—by using solar panels and batteries.

Responding to a tweet asking if Tesla could help, Musk answered: "The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too."

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosello joined the conversation, tweeting to Musk: "Let's talk. Do you want to show the world the power and scalability of your #TeslaTechnologies? PR could be that flagship project."

Musk then responded: "I would be happy to talk. Hopefully, Tesla can be helpful."

Tesla and Musk have for years been seeking to push the auto industry to electric to reduce the use of fossil fuels, and more recently have introduced residential and commercial solar batteries which can operate off the .

Explore further: Tesla sets semi-truck debut for October 26

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5 / 5 (2) Oct 06, 2017
"Diverting resources to fix Model 3 bottlenecks & increase battery production for Puerto Rico & other affected areas."

The powerwall / solar batteries use a different type of battery cell than the cars, made on different production lines. It's unlikely they can just "divert" their resources without costly and time-consuming re-tooling, which makes the Puero Rico point just a smokescreen for not meeting their promised deadlines.

The real trouble is that Musk is announcing and promising new products faster than they are actually able to make them, because the whole company is based on hype designed to draw in investment capital rather than sales profits. That results in broken promises, and poor excuses for why the promises get consistently broken.
not rated yet Oct 06, 2017
@Eikka - Tesla has lots of experience with scaled up battery systems. They have a side business that involves electrifying small islands using solar/batteries. Given that successful experience, I would be astonished if scalability was anything more than pushing their battery factories to emphasize the larger package, and coupling that with widely available solar technology.

Having said that, it is very unlikely that anything on the massive scale suggested here will be realized soon enough for a real impact.
3 / 5 (2) Oct 08, 2017
Batteries should be recharged by magic because wind and solar are unreliable.
"Wind & solar was absolutely destroyed in Puerto Rico. You cannot depend on renewables to survive severe hurricanes"
"Hurricane Irma destroyed almost all of the 16,748 panels in this solar farm September 17, 2017 in Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas, The U.S. Virgin Islands."
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 10, 2017
Musk's rockets return to base and Musk's cars are off-the-chart excellent according to Consumer's Union. Hype or greatness? I would suggest this is engineering greatness.

I would suggest you've fallen in the trap.

Of course if you're buying a $100k luxury car, you'll find it excellent. That's also completely besides the point: when Elon Musk originally promised the car to the investors, it was supposed to cost $50k and go 300 miles on a charge - that was his words. When the car actually came to market, it cost double and didn't go 300 miles.

That is the problem.

Elon Musk's original plan and promise was to build a sports car, then use the profits from that to build a people's car. That's the promise he sold to everyone. Instead, the sports car never made any profit, and after two more models (S and X) we should already have the affordable people's car; the Model 3 isn't it.

Same with the rocket. It was about whether it saves money, and it hasn't yet.
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 10, 2017
The entire auto industry is now following his lead into electric cars. Hype or foresight?

The entire auto industry is waiting for the affordable, safe, reliable battery to come. Elon Musk simply jumped the gun, because his 8,000 cell laptop battery wasn't it. It was "cheap", but nothing more.

The other automakers went the other way with large prismatic cells to reduce the number of modules in the battery for improved reliability and ease of manufacturing, but that didn't leverage the economies of scale as with the laptop battery cells so they cost more, so they found no market. Likewise, the other manufacturers didn't go with the explosion-prone LMnO (NCA) type cells, but waited for the price of better cell types to drop.

So what Tesla is doing now is scrambling to do what they should have done in the first place: the Model 3 was supposed to have the safer more durable NMC type cell - but Tesla is finding it difficult to make them to the low price!
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 10, 2017
Now he leaps into spaceships foregoing his earlier successful designs, betting everything on the future. I, too, was unsettled by all the novelty. Hype or substantial courage? Musk has a track record of courage, foresight, and engineering excellence. He's for real.

Here's the thing. When you forget what he originally promised, how he sold these enterprises to you, you end up shifting the goalposts for him and pretending that he's done everything he promised.

So of course you think he can do nothing wrong, even though he keeps wasting everyone's time and money for almost nothing but personal gain. He's not really a forerunner, he's P.T Barnum.

Living in Elon's hype bubble is like a financial version of the battered wife syndrome: the abused always puts the blame outside of the abuser, even onto themselves, because they fear that if they stop throwing money at the huckster then the cool Jetsons future with flying cars and space rockets might never come.
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 10, 2017
But the point about technological development isn't one of individual mavericks. All the great inventions were made as they became possible by the general causes and conditions surrounding them - Edison didn't invent the lightbulb, Marconi didn't invent the radio, Watt didn't invent the steam engine, the Wrights didn't invent the airplane; in a sense they all did, but so did so many others to the point that often who ends up in the history books is a matter of racing to the patent office. That's also why so many great innovations are made by humble people tinkering alone in their sheds. The mavericks simply take the credit.

Seen that way, the readyness of some invention can be judged by whether it has direct competition. The so called forerunners are simply those who try to do it before it is actually doable, at great expense to themselves or others, and they succeed along with everybody else as the conditions arise to make it doable.
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 10, 2017
The other automakers poison our atmosphere and foist that cost onto an unsuspecting public.

And you pass no blame to the people who buy these cars? Perhaps there have not been better alternatives? After all, the automakers are simply responding to popular demand, and you have to invoke a global conspiracy to argue that they've somehow suppressed all better options.

Back in the 90's it was argued so, because of the GM patents on NiMH battery cells, but those didn't apply outside of the US and everybody else could make electric cars all they wanted, and they did. The problem was that the technology wasn't any good and nobody bought any.

Musk has not.

In the current condition, driving electric cars - especially ones that are significantly more expensive than regular cars - is not better pollution-wise because their cost turns up as consumption and pollution elsewhere, and because electricity is still predominantly made by fossil fuels.
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 10, 2017
Take for example Norway: to pay off one imported Tesla Model S car, they need to sell enough energy (oil) to drive that same Tesla car 12 million kilometers.

Waiting for technological constraints to unwind may be what he's doing, too. We have no crystal ball.

We don't need one; that's all he can do.

I for one appreciate an executive with Musk's priorities.

His priorities is to make money, and he does that by expanding and expanding the scope of his business faster than his original gambits fail. It's sort of like taking a loan, and then taking another bigger loan to pay off the first, and then taking another even bigger loan to pay off the second...

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